It was dawn when he awoke, and he quietly got out of bed. His body was aching badly, the bruised muscles and cuts stinging as he moved. All that he brushed aside, however, and his first conscious thought was to check on his master.
Dressing as fast as his injuries would allow him, the little servant Elf flew down the hallways and found his master's room with ease.
Poking his head through the door, he noticed the queen sitting by his bedside. She had spent the whole night up with him. When the maiden glanced up disinterestedly as he entered the room, Esendri noted that her eyes were puffy from excess tears, and looked utterly exhausted. In spite of this, she still maintained a beauty that caused the little one to pause in his step.
He walked up to her, unafraid.
"How feel you today, Esendri?" she looked up and examined the red-headed little boy before speaking. Her voice, as always, was soft and gentle but strained under the burden of caring for her son.
"Your Majesty, I am fine. These are but surface cuts and scratches, as Milinral pointed out last night."
She smiled at him, a sad, sincere smile.
"Have you eaten, tithen pen, for I believe you have not had your breakfast. Do not neglect yourself in your urgent desire to look after Legolas."
"But I am not hungry!" he started to protest, and was cut short by the loud growl emanating from his stomach.
The queen tinkered softly. She stood up and pushed the little Elf out of the room, closing the door behind him. "I will not let you back until you have eaten a full meal!" she commanded.
Esendri cursed his stomach as he walked reluctantly away from the room. He had not even the chance to lay eyes on his master!
He ate a quick and hurried meal in the palace kitchens, and doubled back to the house of Healing where his friend lay.
"Now that I have returned, you should rest. I can take your place for a while. You need rest, and food as well!" he told the queen brightly in a hushed tone.
Seeing there would be no deterring the determined little Elf, the queen agreed. She left her seat by the bed of the still exhausted little prince, and headed for her own chambers for a much needed break.
Esendri walked up to the bed. His master was still deathly pale. Beads of sweat had formed on his brow, and he was biting his lip. The servant took in the ruby-red mark that his teeth left on his lips, which were turning purple with the sustained pressure put to it.
He walked into the adjacent room, and fetched a silver basin. Taking a soft silk cloth, he carefully moped his master's brow, wiping away the perspiration and the slight trace of tears that had formed in the corners of his eyes. The little prince stirred slightly, but did not arouse from his uneasy slumber.
A slight commotion was heard outside the doors as Esendri finished up his careful cleansing of the prince's face.
"How could you let this happen? It has only been two days ere I left!" A voice demanded angrily.
Esendri discoloured. The King.
The doors were thrown open a moment later, and King Thranduil strode into the room, followed closely by another Elf, who was tall and broadly built, more in the manner of Man than an Elf. He held himself ramrod straight, regal and proud. The clear air of an prince. Fully grown, taller and bigger than his father, he wore an impassive look on his face, as he looked down upon his little brother.
The King however, had a deep furrow on his brow as he moved aside the bed of the little prince. He took in the ugly bruises, now more evident than ever as the blood had clotted angrily. The bandages, the sling and the cast around his son's leg were all examined carefully. His eyes paused on the little Elf for a long while, staring at his face. The beautiful boy's face was now bloated with splotches of purple, cuts and scratches covering all parts of it. He placed a palm on his son's cheek, feeling the cuts and the injuries. For a moment, the old monarch looked old to Esendri. The immortal face furrowed and troubled.
His eyes drifted then to the nervous little Elf standing by the bedside, holding the silver basin. His son too, stared at Esendri curiously, noticing his injuries as well.
He sighed heavily and motioned for Esendri to follow them outside. The Elf cast down the basin and left the room obediently.
Once outside, the King spoke. "I was told you saved my son. Despite my gratitude, I help not but feel that you should have contained him. The prince is not allowed out of the Palace, surely, this you know!"
Esendri panicked, and felt tears spring to his eyes. He was mortally afraid of being dismissed from the services he had just started out in.
Thranduil continued, not waiting for his reply. "However, it is a known fact that it is next to impossible to stop Legolas from doing anything he sets his heart out to do. Even I have not that ability to do so. The only person he remains vaguely afraid of is his brother. It is unlikely, even then, that he would listen."
The prince Dethronir smiled vaguely at the comment, a hint of irony present upon his proud face.
Esendri nodded fearfully, unsure of where the conversation was heading.
"What of his wounds?" Thranduil spoke again, his voice strained.
"Your Majesty, His Highness had a bad gash dealt upon his forehead. His elbow has been dislocated, and his ankle shattered. The Healers fear he may not walk properly again! He has lost a fair amount of blood, but there is no threat to his life now. It is the splintered bone that worries the Healers the most."
The weary look reappeared on the King's face.
"We are indebted to you, indeed, for saving a very precious life. Wipe the worry from your face, and be sure you serve the prince well. Have a Healer to take a look at your own wounds. You may take your leave."
The servant bowed low as the King left the vicinity, and returned to the room, relieved. Things had turned out better than he had expected. He saw the slight moving of bed-covers, and rushed over. Two bright blue eyes laced with tears stared up at him.
"Maer aur, Master! How was your sleep?"
"Is what you told my father, true? That I may never walk again?" The voice small and concerned, the usual confidence absent.
The little Elf frowned. He did not know how to break the news. He paused for a bit before trying to divert the subject. "I do not know for sure. A Healer could give you a better assessment. Master, I hope you rested well!"
"The pain kept waking me every few moments, but I was given a herb by a Healer late in the night and slept till the present."
"And the pain? I hope it has lessened."
"I wish it were so. It comes in angry, persistent throbs. I do feel much better, and would like to know what happened to you, Esendri!"
"Well Master, I saw you go down into the water. I could not see you anymore. I was afraid, and jumped in after you. The water was so powerful and strong! Scary it was! It kept sweeping me away from you. Finally when I caught you, I managed to bring you to the riverbank and left you there. Everything is a blank after that!"
Legolas was silent for a moment. His face was slightly pinched with guilt and pain. Gazing up at the ceiling, he murmured gratefully. "Thank you, Esendri. The fault is mine for getting you into this!"
The servant grinned at his master. "Worry not, Master Legolas. It is my duty to protect you. It is I who should be sorry! For it is I who has escaped almost unscathed. You were unconscious and I was unsure if you were breathing. There was blood everywhere, I was so afraid!"
"I think I hit my head after I went down."
The little prince's face was turning paler by the moment. Esendri knew that the pain was worsening. He quickly placed a hand on his master's shoulder, and did his best to soothe him.
"Master, please, speak no more. You should be resting! I would tell you stories and you could listen, but please do not speak!"
Legolas shifted and started to protest, but his body did not allow it. Muscles screamed. Fresh tears leapt to his face, and he bit on the inside of his cheek. His lower lip had become too raw. His was determined not to cry, however, and he frowned and stared fiercely upon a fixed spot on the delicate tapestry that lined the walls.
"If you do not rest, I would call your mother back in here!" Esendri tried his best to get his Master to calm down.
The little prince sighed softly, and gave in. He relaxed and settled among the sheets, face still lifted up towards his friend.
"I forgot one thing, Master! I saw my parents!"
It got the attention of Legolas. His eyes grew large and he stared incredulously at Esendri. Disbelief crowding upon his face, he waited for the other to continue breathlessly.
"It was really dark, and suddenly there was a bright light. I was walking down a path towards it. It was dazzling, and I was surrounded by darkness. I saw my parents walking toward me. My father came up to me, and gave me a big hug, and my mother picked me up and cuddled me. After that they turned me around, and took me in the opposite direction. And then I woke up in Milinral's house."
"Esendri, I believe you were walking down the path towards the halls of Mandos! The way towards the bright light is much easier, and the pain fades with every step you take. I was not ready for it. It would be better for me to suffer here than find relief there!" his eyes grew glassy as he recalled the memory, forgetting the present circumstances.
"The halls of Mandos? I do not understand." Esendri broke into his thoughts with a quip.
"When Elves leave Middle-Earth, they journey on towards the halls of Mandos, where it is to be their final resting place!"
The little Elf fell silent as he contemplated the revelation. He had not known that he had been so close to dying.
"Why then was it easy for me to turn back? I did not feel anything. Pain was absent from my journey back!"
"That is because you were in the company of your parents, two people who loved you very much. I do not understand it myself, but it is what I feel is correct!"
Esendri nodded. Now that reality sank in, he was grateful that he managed to come out from the whole ordeal alive. He found himself admiring the ability of his master to accept the whole situation so lightly. Legolas was able to talk about dying without sounding scared in spite of his tender age. He also brushed aside his injuries, despite the obvious fact that they were severe and hurt badly.
"I believe you to be correct, master! I do not miss them so much after I saw them, and now feel as if they would always be beside me."
Legolas managed a small smile. He was glad his friend was feeling better.
The door opened, and the young Elf that they had seen earlier in the woods sprinted in. He rushed up to the bedside of the little prince, real concern and worried mirrored upon his dark face.
"You look as if the whole might of the dark forces have descended upon you!"
"Lithroleah!" the smile on Legolas' face widened. "Am I glad to see you! I got a little thrown around!"
"You did not tell me about this!" The frown on his face was deep, and the voice indignant.
"I suppose I was to crawl up from my bed to let you know?" The prince demanded haughtily.
"Forgive me so, I was worried about you! Do not scare us all again! Believe me, it is not a pleasant feeling! I have to go off with my father now. I will return within the week, and expect you to be ready as new by then, and have a good story awaiting, explaining your current sorry state!"
He smiled at Esendri, and stroked the little prince's hair, before he was off again. A seemingly inexhaustible bundle of energy.
Legolas snorted and winced a little. "He keeps himself busy so as to avoid the visions."
"Ai, he has visions of the past and future. They do not occur very much, but they bring him great pain. Lithroleah finds that immersing himself in action helps make sure they do not come to him very often," he offered, trying to explain the other's energy.
Esendri slapped a hand to his mouth. He had forgotten about his master's breakfast.
"Master, breakfast!" He rushed out of the door, scarcely looking behind, flying into the nearest kitchen without waiting for a response.
He charged about helter-skelter, upset that he had forgotten. He was not a very good servant for letting this happen. You deserve to be thrown to the Orcs, he thought to himself darkly.
Grabbing fruits and some bread, he hurriedly rushed back to the little prince's chambers.
The sight that greeted him horrified him. Stunned, he dropped the tray. Fruits rolled everywhere in all directions, but were ignored.
Legolas was curled up in a ball on the floor. The arm held in a sling was pulled inwards towards his stomach, and the other fist was clenched tightly, tensed at the side of his body. Tears were streaming down his face. His eyes were squeezed shut, and he was rocking soundlessly back and forth. Little moans escaped his lips from time to time as the pain reached unbearable heights. Esendri saw, with horror-stricken eyes, that blood was starting to seep through the bandage across his head. Saturating the soft protective layer around it. The prince's face was ashen grey, his lips were so badly bitten, a trickle of blood was flowing from his mouth.
The servant's limbs turned to stone. He could only stand there and gape. He did not know what to do. His mouth seemed like lead, as he struggled to open it.
"Help! Help!" he cried, his high little voice carrying into the corridor and entering adjacent rooms. He rushed forward and knelt down beside his master, but did not dare to touch him. Afraid of causing more harm. Frightened that he would bring more pain to the little Elf.
Others flew into the room, and they too baulked at the scene. Healers were called for by panicky servants, and there was complete pandemonium. The boy did not alter from his state, the pain had totally encompassed his very being, and was unaware of the world and the panic that flooded through it at the moment.
Minlinral appeared as well, and quickly took charge of the situation. Asking another to bring the now quaking Esendri away from the scene, he walked over to the huddled figure on the floor, and picked him up gently and placed him back onto the bed. The little moans changed into full screams of anguish, and the prince finally gave way to his feelings. He started to cry loudly, and shuddering sobs broke the air. The experienced Elf could see that his ankle was the main cause of his pain, and he moved quickly to stifle it with his magic, pressing his palms to it.
Healers arrived, and they quickly went to work on the other wounds. The dressing on the prince's head was quickly removed, and herbs and salves used to stem the flow of blood from the newly opened wound. A soft cloth was placed in his mouth to prevent him from biting his tongue. A sedative applied to calm the little body that shook with tremors.
The queen arrived, and hearing the cries of her little boy, she rushed up to him. She was taken stridently aside by a servant.
"Legolas tried to rise from his bed, and took a tumble." the reply from Milinral was short and curt. There was to be no time for hysterics or panic.
"Nana! Inaeg! Make it go away!" the little boy cried as he heard her voice through the haze of pain. His sobs doubled, the shaking increased. His fist had turned white with the force it clenched itself with, and angry red and purple marks appeared where his nails dug into silken skin. More tears rolled down his cheeks. The prince's mouth opened and gasped like a fish out of water in between sobs. As if to draw in the fresh air to try and lessen the agony he was going through. His whole body was tense, and Milinral feared that he would go into a fit. His magic was not powerful enough to send Legolas into a deep sleep, as the boy was too agitated for that.
The older Elf quickly removed the dressing from the little prince's ankle. He moved it slightly, and the spasm of pain that resulted caused the little prince to pass out with a loud scream. He went limp, and stopped moving altogether. The muscles loosened, and his arm dropped off the side of the bed.
Milinral quickly applied a stronger pressure onto the ankle, before strapping it to a board brought in by one of the Healers. It had to be kept as still as possible.
That being done, he stood up and looked at the prince. The little Elf's face had gone oddly peaceful now. His face was still wet from the perspiration and tears that had broken out earlier on. He instructed the Healers to apply more salves and to bring more sedatives. The boy had to be kept still, which was close to impossible while he was awake.
Sighing, he turned to the queen. Her face had gone as pale as that of her son's, as she stared blankly at him. Her eyes did not register any emotions. Milinral walked up to her.
"Tuilinniel, a strong boy he is. He would recover." His voice was fraught with worry and warmth at the same time.
The Elf-maiden finally gave way, and collapsed into his arms. Pearls ran down her cheeks. Shuddering sobs ran through her, as she struggled to keep her feelings under control. Worry and pain at seeing her son suffer from the past days welled up in her.
Milinral shifted awkwardly, and passed the queen over to a handmaiden. He spoke to her softly, his voice low and musical, doing his best to calm her.
When the queen had stopped shaking, Milinral walked out of the room, and hurried to find Esendri.
He found the little Elf in hysterics. He was being held by an older servant. His arms beat down on the one who held him still, and he thrashed and convulsed violently, seeking to break free of his imprisonment.
Milinral quickly walked up to them. He took Esendri from the other, and shook him violently. The pain he caused jolted the little Elf back to his senses.
Esendri looked up at Milinral. Angry red blotches had appeared on his face, and his sobs continued. Tears continued to stream down his face.
"Esendri, listen to me!" his tone was stern and commanding, "Legolas is not being helped by your behaving in such a manner!"
In between sobs, the other choked a reply. "It was my fault! I left the room to get breakfast for him, and he tried to get up. He did not believe that his injuries very severe! Now he is in such pain, and I am afraid he will not be able to walk again! I am to blame for not keeping a close watch over him!"
Milinral patiently heard the little Elf out.
"Listen to me, my boy. Nobody is to blame for what happened. It was an accident. It was not due to anything you did or failed to do," his voice was still harsh.
Esendri nodded miserably. He gulped a couple of times, and continued, "How is he?" The voice was timid and afraid, waiting to listen to the bad news.
"He is asleep now. He cannot feel any more pain for the time being. However, walking on a shattered ankle will do it no good. It would only severely worsen the injury and cripple any chances of recovery. The prince is a proud boy. He does not want to be seen as a crippled convalescent. Convincing him to pay heed is no easy job. That would be your task, for I have faith in you."
The sniffing grew softer as the little Elf calmed down. Milinral stood and held him in his arms and soothed his ruffled emotions. Before long, the magic began to take effect, and Esendri faded into the world of dreams.
tithen pen - little one
maer aur - good morning
nana - mummy
inaeg - the pain
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.